According to just about everyone, the ideal time to send your emails is Tuesday at 10 am.
That’s it. Post over. You don’t need to keep reading. Unless… the answer isn’t that simple.
What if I told you that we are facing the issues of content clutter and email clutter? And that email open and clickthrough rates are falling despite massive amounts of them being sent.
The truth is, your audience is fatigued. They receive hundreds of marketing messages per day. A large chunk of those are in email inboxes, but they’re also plastered on social media, on billboards as they drive, and on radio and television programs.
Every email marketer has seen the research. They know that, according to the email experts, Monday through Friday between 10 and 11 am is the ideal time to email. But is it really?
If everyone knows this, maybe sending at this time is just a recipe for getting your content ignored.
The Problem With Most Studies
We will look at the data in just a moment. It shows the overall trends for what emailing times are the most effective.
The problem is, many of these studies use open rates as the measure of a “successful” email. But that’s not the true measure of success, is it?
The more important metric in email marketing is the clickthrough. That’s how you know you reached and successfully converted your lead.
Open Rate As a Measure of Success
Hubspot did an analysis of ideal email send times using open rates. They found that Tuesday had the advantage, with the highest open rates.
MailChimp did a similar study. It measured the success of emails based on volume and “engagement.” I’d be interested to see the breakdown, to see if they weighted opens and clicks the same. They found the same as Hubspot. The most popular sending day was also Tuesday.
The best times of day to send are (according to the local time zone of your audience):
- 10–11 am — this is the classic late morning send. You’ll get a lot of emails at this time of day.
- 8 pm-midnight — people check their emails as they start to wind down for bed and look towards the upcoming morning
- 2 pm — people are getting bored/distracted at work at this time. That means they might be idly reading what’s in their inbox
- 6 am — Apparently 50% of workers check their email before they get out of bed.
Click Rates as a Measure of Success
I’d argue that open rates don’t tell the full story of what a “successful” email sending time is. Of course, you’ll be more likely to open an email at the “ideal” times, but will you actually read it? Engage with it? Click through to the landing page?
Let’s look at the research that examines the relationship between day, time, and clicks.
When it comes to clicks and clickthrough rates, Sunday is your winner. Maybe its because people spend more time on their devices on Sunday or maybe its because they’re not so overburdened with messaging at that time.
This is the argument for sending at off times and days.
When should you send?
Saturday and Sundays. I would also try the times that are late at night and early in the morning on weekdays.
Open Air Time
So many brands send out the entirety of their messaging on the weekdays. That means there is a lot more airtime to be filled on weekends.
Less volume overall means that you might get less email opens, but you will likely get better quality engagement from the few that do.
More Unique Opens
Experian found that recipients responded more to promotional emails on the weekend when send volume is low. They got a unique open rate for Saturday and Sunday that was 17.8%, the highest percent of the week.
That doesn’t mean you should switch all of your sending to Sunday, but it does mean that its worth a test.
Just Because They’re Not at Work Doesn’t Mean Your Email Doesn’t Reach Them
We live in an always-on culture, and if you’re delivering some prime, work changing advice, well, you don’t have to send it in the middle of the workday to get engagement.
You might have more success sending (non-salesy) content at off times. Most days at work, when I see that I have another marketing email, I ignore it. I don’t have time to read that now.
But send me a juicy piece on email marketing at 6 am or on a weekend… I might bite.
Many companies mandate that employees have their emails delivered to their phone. That means your message reaches them in bed, at home, or lounging in the sun on a Saturday afternoon.
Not only that, but 54% of emails are opened on phones. That means that emails (even B2B ones) can be sent any time. Determine when and where your target audience will be looking at their phones. That’s when you’ll have the best chance of reaching them.
When should you send your emails? The only answer is to test. When you read about the “best” time to send, it ignores factors like your company, the type of product you sell, your sales cycle, etc.
To determine when you think you should send, you need to look into who your customers are and what their habits are. This can be achieved by answering the following questions:
- What do they do for a living?
- When do they wake up?
- When do they check email?
- Do they have any downtime?
- When do they go to bed?
After you answer those questions, use them to guide your split testing.
- Decide your metrics of success. Look at both opens and clicks.
- Split a target group of leads into two parts.
- Send them the exact same email at different times, testing which does better.
You can run these tests every time you send out an email campaign. What do you have to lose? Sending your email out at the right time for your brand and audience is one of the most important parts of email marketing. Refine your send times to get maximum reach. You spend a lot of time and money on your content. Sending it at the right time ensures it reaches the right people.